Where Things Stand: Convict, expel minor hockey coach for bodily injury
for Smoky River Express
This week, Martin Joseph George Tremblay, a coach for a Vancouver minor hockey team, will appear in a Vancouver court, facing two charges of assault.
The charges are in relation to a tripping incident during handshakes with the other team at the end of the game at the UBC Thunderbird Arena in Vancouver June 23. There is video footage showing Tremblay deliberately tripping a player from the opposing team during handshakes. The player suffered a broken wrist because of the incident.
However, more appalling is Tremblay’s attitude, as the video footage also shows him giving the middle finger to others sitting in the bleachers.
But he shouldn’t serve only jail time for causing bodily harm to a child. He should be expelled from the sport forever – and never allowed to coach any other sport either.
He should also be compelled to offer a verbal and written apology to the child, his family and to the minor hockey community, and he should do it in the limelight of the media.
Tremblay can’t explain away his actions. He can’t justify them. Even if he had a legitimate dispute about the player’s performance or conduct during the game, that doesn’t excuse him for doing what he did.
What he did amounts to not only bodily harm, but bullying and intimidation. His conduct is akin to the bodily injuries that Marty McSorley committed against Donald Brashear of the Boston Bruins in 2000 and the injuries Todd Bertuzzi committed against Steven Moore of the Colorado Avalanche in 2004. McSorley and Bertuzzi played for the Vancouver Canucks at the times of their notoriety.
Tremblay is no different from them, except that he is a coach.
Coaches are supposed to set a good example for their players. On their shoulders rests conduct that is supposed to be beyond reproach – something that he obviously lacks.
What parent would tolerate their child being assaulted by a coach from another hockey team?
What minor hockey league – or any minor sports league, for that matter – wouldn’t be embarrassed by such gross misconduct and negligence as one of their coaches physically harming a young child?
This is not to say that all coaches in all minor sports leagues act like Tremblay. Not at all. Incidents like the one he was involved in aren’t an everyday occurrence, nor are they tolerated by the overseeing organizations they answer to.
But when an adult causes physical harm to a child during a sporting event, it must send up a red flag and cause everyone to pause and think about the consequences.
Fortunately, the child didn’t suffer any other injuries.
However, what if that child had fallen the wrong way and broke his neck or spine?
What if he had died?
Is that worth the price of allowing someone like Tremblay to coach other children?
Granted, there is always the risk of injury in any sport, including minor sports, and parents and children have to accept that as a given.
But no parent or child ever expects a coach to commit blatant physical harm, bullying or intimidation against the child.
No, jail time is warranted in Tremblay’s case and he owes the injured child, his parents and the minor hockey community a public apology for his gross misconduct and negligence.
He is an embarrassment to the sport and an example must be made of him. Moreover, a message must be sent that assaulting children in a sports setting is inexcusable and unconscionable.
Convict and expel this minor hockey coach.